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18 | REAL ESTATE & DEVELOPMENT

baltimorebusinessjournal.com | BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL | FEBRUARY 1-7, 2013

Long-abandoned carriage shop added to high-end housing stock Historic-preservation credits help developers transform properties

COURTESY OF BUILDING CHARACTER

PHOTOS The warehouse and garage at 37 Birckhead St. in Federal Hill was a carriage repair shop in the 1800s. Building Character is renovating the building into luxury housing that could sell in the $900,000 range.

Easily dismissed as just another abandoned garage-warehouse bound for the bulldozer, 37 Birckhead St. in Federal Hill seemed the least likely candidate for a high-end historic rehab. But builder Matt Knoepfle saw the potential behind its semipainted brick front, roughed-up steel doors and cinderblocked windows when he discovered the hidden history and expansive space behind them. He acquired the property in July for $275,000. “It was a carriage repair shop,” said Knoepfle, who co-owns Building Character by MK Enterprises LLC with his brother, Mike Knoepfle. “We found a construction cart for furnaces and plumbing supplies, a beer and soda cart, and an old milk-delivery cart. Those three carriages had been stuck on the second floor for the last 100 years.” After donating them to an antique carriage collector, Knoepfle used the 4,466-square-foot, late-19th-centur y structure’s open floors, high ceilings and flat roof as the nucleus for a single-family renovation with four bedrooms, six baths, two roofdecks, a two-car garage, private courtyard, chef’s kitchen, and separate living, dining and family rooms. “That is unusual in the city, where usually you have one sitting area,” said Knoepfle, who expects the building to sell in the $900,000 range after it is completed in February. It is one of several historic projects underway through the Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation’s tax credit program. Projects costing less than $3.5 million are eligible for 10-year property tax

COURTESY OF BUILDING CHARACTER

COURTESY OF BUILDING CHARACTER

TODD LARSON | CONTRIBUTOR

freezes in exchange for following CHAP preservation guidelines. “The basic CHAP guidelines required restoring the exterior to as close to the original as possible,” said Knoepfle, who declined to provide the cost of the project. “We had to restore the brick on all four sides and install wood windows and wood garage doors.” Inside, new historically accurate wood staircases complement original wood posts, beams and joists. Other CHAP developments in progress include Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.’s single-family renovations of late1800s Federal Hill townhouses on Patapsco and Jackson streets, which involve removing 1950s formstone exterior veneers, restoring the red brick facades and preser ving original Georgia pine floors where possible. “If you’re really trying to do a CHAP restoration, you’re tr ying to save as much as you can,” said Steve Strohecker, a Long & Foster manager, who is hoping these $125,000-to-$175,000 acquisitions sell in the upper $200,000s to mid$300,000s. “Some contractors put a new house inside of an old box, which is not the intent of the program.”


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